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Keeping Baby Gender a Secret Could Save Girls in India

India’s prime minster, Manmohan Singh is calling for stricter enforcement on laws designed to hide the sex of the fetus from their parents until birth. She described the rampant aborting of female fetuses as a “national shame.”

The decline in female births can be attributed to two factors. First is money. A family with a female is required to scrape together a dowry to their son-in-law — this can be a very heavy financial burden and bury the parents in crushing debt. The wealthier regions of India suffered the most acute imbalance in female to male birth ratio where a male heir is of particular importance and the access to the surprising high-tech reason #2 is much easier. To see what it is,


The slipping number of baby girls is also due to the employment of more sophisticated pre-natal technologies like ultrasound. To combat the female decline, pregnant women are required to sign a form agreeing not to seek to know the sex of their fetus. If a doctor slips and reveals this information, they can be imprisoned for up to five years. The don't ask don't tell approach to baby law is widely flouted and very difficult to enforce. Some doctors covertly report the sex of the child by offering pink or blue candy, others give coded remarks; there simply is no effective enforcement.

It is estimated in 2006 as many as ten million female fetuses had been aborted over the past 20 years. Do you think that people have a right to determine whether they want a male or female child? Do you think the government should intervene?


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hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I woke up last night and started thinking of my comment I last made here. I hope it didn't come accross as callus or something like that. It was an observation of beauty and what's behind it. I was also thinking of all things and all cultures. Jeeze I know sometimes my tact and lack of political correctness are bad. :oops:
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
Here's an article on American gender preference from last year: I've always wanted to adopt. It just makes me so sad to think of all these girls in orphanages for no reason other than they were born female. I know I can't help them all, but I think it would be amazing to be able to help one. My fiance jokes that our dog is my Chinese orphan because I was so adament about adopting him from the Humane Society instead of looking at puppies.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
NYF, I thought on Commonwealth adoptions site, said that they changed the law totally. But maybe they were wrong. I certainly hope you are correct. Vietnam just stopped Americans from adopting and I believe Guatemala just recently put a temporary hold on international adoption. As you can see I am very into adoption. :)
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
NYF, thanks for the info. Everytime the page comes up and the picture of all the beautiful bright colors gets me. The women look so beautiful and happy. I think of a lot of cultures that have so much beauty to them. Yet there is somethings sinister going on behind the lives. Or happening to them.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
This is a really sad situation. I'm hoping to be able to adopt a girl from India in the coming years. It's interesting how the adoption laws are so stringent yet there aren't any laws protecting women from being surrogate mothers for foreign couples. Btw, this is from the U.S. Dept of state website: "It is important to note that Indian law does not permit foreigners to adopt Indian children, but rather to receive guardianship (custody) that allows the prospective adoptive parents to depart India and to adopt the child in the parents home country." So it is possible for foreigners to adopt it's just that it is SO difficult and tedious, many probably give up.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
2M I know that was true in the past, about people wanting more boys then girls, but I believe it is the opposite at this current time.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
Few things make me angrier than hearing stories like this. It seems like so many societies still view women as little more than broodmares. Like in China you are allowed to have one child, but if it's a girl it doesn't count. I've read stories before that even in the United States more parents want boys than girls.
geebers geebers 9 years
I agree with harts: "I think more focus should be on the root of the problem". Yes exactly. I dont think that anyone should prevent families from learning about the sex of their child- that is a choice they make. I also do not think we can stop senseless abortions from happening - if these people are so anti-girls they will abort, they may find other means of harming their baby regardless of knowing the sex beforehand or not. I think the problem is society and how it values men over women without any regard that in order for any society to advance, it must respect its women. It's unfortunate but really the problem needs to start being addressed at its source. Dowry has been banished in India but it is not possible to regulate. Changes need to happen psychologically and I see that happening only if we start teaching youth and younger generations the value of a woman.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I know, so many sad lives. It's heartbreaking.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I heard that in China, the uneven ratio of women to men has created an unsafe environment for the existing young women. Because young women are becoming scarce, there's not enough of them to couple with men. So young women (like girls) are kidnapped to be sold as brides to men. Many times, these girls are taken thousands of miles away from their homes, and they can't find their way back. A terrible tragedy and crime.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Did anyone feel the earth shift or anything? Because Yesteryear and Hartsfull just had an agreement! ;)
megnmac megnmac 9 years
This breaks my heart, and causes the poli sci half of me to worry about the future... in the polygamy society men are kicked out so they can have the many women to each man ratio, here India is creating a situation where there are many men to each woman... on the one hand, when women are rare maybe they'll be more desired and the men will have to fight for them rather than making the women put a dowry together... and on the other hand I see a lot of crime from disgruntled young men who can't get a girl... these seemingly individual choices in family planning will affect the entire nation since it is based on a shared culture and they are picking the same gender over and over, and cutting off the natural 50/50... SCARY.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
this is so unbelievably sad. i remember hearing about this same exact thing happening in china a few years ago. they have a limit of one child per family, so "trying again" was something they had to do otherwise they'd be "stuck" with girl. hartsfull, you bring up the most important point. making the practice of ultrasound illegal isn't going to solve anything - India and China should both undertake huge public relations campaigns to encourage families to keep their baby girls.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Now I have to expain my thoughts. :ponder: I am prochoice because young girls will and have had them illegally and die. I think that is why abortions need to be legal. I think more focus should be on the root of the problem, why they are having the abortions. Young american girls and women in India. It just is another example to me, that we need to think of why this is happening before it happens and not the end result.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Wow Cine I didn't know that! Thats so sad...
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I agree with what you're saying Subtle, I don't condone the reasons for their having abortions ( I am prochoice, but nevermind that for now). To me, I think that the big issue is people's rights are being suppressed: A family has give a dowery for their daughters, doctors are being put in prison. Good grief, take the pressure off the families and don't expect a dowry. Here in America, it's exected that the brides family pays for the wedding. That doesn't always happen. Thank goodness big repercussions aren't borne from that here!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Morning harts! :coffeecup:
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
They may eventually get it when all the women from India are in other countries...
subtleheights subtleheights 9 years
Eugenics is exactly what this is. hey i guess they will soon figure out how to implant wombs into these men
em1282 em1282 9 years
Eh, I don't know, trying to decide on whether you "want" a girl or a boy just screams eugenics to me. Also, I just love how women always get screwed over like this. Uhh, where do you think males come from?????
subtleheights subtleheights 9 years
It is quite evident that we live in an era where everyone is entitled to their own personal choices, yet a selfish era at that.i agree one should have the option but how do we know we are not robbing the world of great leaders who may be born of these fetuses? how do we know future geniuses or beings who may have a solution to this corrupted affair we call life on earth? but then again a great favor might be done here. who would want to willing be part of this kind of world anyway? i say the government should limit these abortions to families who already have too many girls or women whose health are in jeopardy.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Gosh Cine! Excellent and very sad point.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Good morning Cine! :wave: :coffeecup:
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Yes, I definately think someone has the right to know about anything concerning their own life and body. What a shame that Doctors are at such a risk. I don't like the gov't intervening on hardly anything. Government should not be involved with peoples personal lives.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
What is also sad is that India used to have an open international adoption system, that allowed people from all over the world to adopt the baby girls that were given up for adoption. Now they have made it very strict, and only people of Indian heritage can adopt from India. So now many babies are left in orphanages their whole lives.
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